Bifold doors can completely transform your home, but they are a big investment. We’ll tell you all you need to know about this gorgeous, flexible glazing, so you know whether it’s right for you
There was a time when kitchen and back room designs were dominated by the French door, but in recent years a more versatile glass door has taken centre stage: the bifold. While the French door could only open up a section of floor-to-ceiling wall to the garden, thanks to its concertina design a bifold door can transform an entire wall of glazing into an open space in a matter of seconds.
They have a simple yet dramatic appearance and utilise high performance technology, bringing a range of benefits to your home or garden room. Whether open or closed, bifold doors can be a gorgeous addition to your home, blurring the line between indoor and outside space in the green midsummer and the bleak and beautiful midwinter; bringing in light, drama, and a real sense of space.
Despite all these potential benefits, doing a little extra research is always wise. Below are a few tips and insights into various bifold door designs, courtesy of the experts at EKCO.
Make sure you know the benefits
Bifold doors offer you a lot of glazing for your money, and are certainly much cheaper than installing a super slick sliding door. They open up your living space to create a real harmony between the indoors and outdoors of your property, adding light, a greater sense of space, and an ever-changing view as the seasons roll by in your garden.
The quality of bifold doors has also increased markedly over the years, becoming more lightweight so that you can open and close them in seconds, as well as stronger, so there is less need to worry about cracks or breakages. They have also become much more thermally efficient, free from draughts and less likely to allow warm air to seep away during the winter months.
Check out the different materials available
Most bifold doors are made from aluminium, uPVC or timber, though sometimes they can be a combination of both. Timber framed doors tend to be heavier, though may be better suited to a more traditional kitchen or back room space. Aluminium doors are much more lightweight, and are made to a standard frame profile with precision engineering. Both materials are high performance, though aluminium doors tend to be more thermally efficient.
uPVC doors represent another option but this style is often considered to be inferior in both quality and appearance. Historically uPVC bifold doors have been notorious for warping and changing shape over time. While there have certainly been advances in recent years using this material, aluminium is certainly still considered to be superior and preferable for those who can afford it.
In terms of colour, grey is a popular choice for aluminium doors, as black or white framed doors can risk looking a little bit like uPVC, which may not be the look you want if you’re investing in high quality doors.
Use them to expand a small space
One of the most obvious appeals of a bifold door is that it creates the illusion of space, which is particularly useful if you want to expand a smaller room, but aren’t willing or able to build an extension. The wider and cleaner the view into your garden or yard is, the more expansive the space will feel. This is one of the main advantages a bifold door has over a French door or window, as the latter will always be narrower and clutter up the back wall, making them a missed opportunity to really show off the outside space. Even if your garden is not especially big, the fact that the room seems to continue beyond the back wall of your house will make your entire home feel much more spacious.
Install quickly and easily
Bifold doors are installed in one of two ways, depending on the company you contact. The first way, which is slower but usually cheaper, is a having builder come round to create an opening, and then asking the door company to measure up and make the frames to fit.
The faster but more expensive alternative is having a builder commit to the creation of an opening in a set size, and then having the right fit frame arrive on the same day, either made to measure or off the peg. It is therefore possible to have a set of bifold doors fitted in a single day. Once the frame is fitted, the glass simply slots into place.
Glaze a corner
Corner bifold systems are another recent innovation, involving two sets of doors which meet in a corner of the room. In most cases, a supporting pillar of wall remains in place where the two doors meet, but it is possible to have a completely open corner, provided the right steelwork and structure is in place. The effect can be truly dramatic, and makes the most of a beautiful outside space.
Odd vs. Even
It’s important to consider how many separate panes of glass (or leaves) you want your bifold doors to have. If you have an odd number of leaves, you are able to open the first leaf as you would a traditional door, making it a bit more convenient if you just want to pop outside. With an even number of leaves, you have to open the first two, which means you are starting to open up the entire thing, which some people might find a bit of a nuisance.
You should also consider how thick the leaves are going to look once they’re opened and stacked to one side. Typically, a fully open bifold door will have a stack of leaves measuring 40-50cm in thickness.
Consider the thickness
It is also worth considering the thickness of the doors themselves. Most companies can provide you with some frame samples so you can get an idea before you commit to anything.
For most people, the main reason they want to install bifold doors is to get the maximum possible view of the garden. If your bifold doors has a lot of narrower leaves, each with its own metal or timber frame, you are putting a lot of material in the way of your view. In most cases it is therefore better to install three or four wider leaves, rather than five or more narrower ones. To see a range of beautiful bespoke bifold doors in various materials and sizes, visit http://ecobifold.co.uk.
Be aware of the cost
It may sound obvious, as getting a quote will probably be the first thing you do, but it’s best to have an idea before you start to seriously consider installing a bifold door. While it’s hard to generalise, as materials, size and installation all factor into the cost, you can expect prices to start from under £2000, depending on the size and spec of the doors you choose.
Would sliding doors suit you better?
A lot of the images we see of bifold doors show them at least partially open, giving an almost uninterrupted view onto the garden. But as this is Britain, not Barbados, some people get nervous about the cold sneaking in. This isn’t a worry with bifold doors, as high quality options are specifically designed to keep the warmth in and the cold out. Sliding doors also tend to be the more expensive of the two options, so if you’re looking for a cost-effective solution then bifold doors are probably the right choice for you.